Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Where No Shadows Fall by Peter Ritchie, the latest book in the Grace Macallan series. A big thank you to Black ad White Publishing for sending me an advance copy of the book for review, and to Alastair Chivers for inviting me to take part in the tour. Here is what the book is all about:
The Bookish Bits
Expose the truth or let the dead lie still?
Grace Macallan’s life is on an even keel – at last. But a 9-to-5 career away from the frontline isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
So when she’s sent to investigate a suicide at Glasgow’s notorious Barlinnie prison, Grace gladly escapes her desk. The dead inmate is Tommy McMartin, heir to a ferocious criminal family. His murder conviction saw Tommy’s fall from power; cast out not for violence but because the victim was his gay lover.
The investigation drags Grace into contact with her McMartin adversaries of old. But the gangland dynasty is under threat and, as it topples, secrets once dead and buried are unearthed.
As she unravels Tommy McMartin’s fate, Grace senses someone watching her from the shadows, someone who aches for revenge. An awful dilemma faces her: to expose the truth or let the dead lie still.
I was a little late to the Grace Macallan series, not joining in until book two, but as soon as I started reading I knew I had found a series that was right up my street. With a strong and determined central protagonist, tense action and truly dramatic storylines, as a reader you are faced with a very different view of life in two of Scotland’s most iconic cities – Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Although Grace Macallan lives and works in Edinburgh, the nature of the beast with regard to Scottish policing means that her territory stretches beyond the city’s outer ring road. Having taken a more sedentary role since becoming a mother for the second time, Grace is finding herself increasingly bored and slightly frustrated on the job. Although she has promised to lead a safer existence for the sake of her family, she is by her very nature a woman who craves more action and cannot step away from a challenge or a dangerous situation, no matter how much sense it makes. I really like Grace, like her grit, sympathise with the internal battle between what is right for her family and what is right for her, and recognise in her the desire to always find justice, no matter what. She is fierce but also vulnerable at times and it makes her very likeable.
That said, this book is less about Grace and more about a fight for the ownership of the streets. Since the events of the last book, Shores Of Death, Edinburgh’s premier crime family, the McMartins, have found themselves in gradual decline and in a pitiful state by the start of this book. But beyond what we know already about the crew, we are set to learn a little more about the heir apparent, the man who was meant to have had it all, Tommy McMartin. In spite of his rather suspect line of work, I felt a great deal of sympathy for Tommy and if you read the book you will understand why. It takes great skill to make a reader feel for someone who operates on the wrong side of the law, especially in a Police thriller, but Peter Ritchie has pitched this perfectly and the ultimate decline of a young man, especially in such violent and tragic circumstances, is sometimes hard to read. The hardest parts are left off the page, but there is enough for readers to put two and two together and to feel both anger and resignation at what comes to pass.
Despite all the darkness which pervades the narrative at times, there are some laughable moments too, especially from failed gang member Bobbo and, to a lesser extent, the ill fated Goggsy, who work for the McMartin’s. They really aren’t cut out for that line of work. Also the scenes towards the end where ‘Cueball’ Ross puts in a reappearance, will have you smiling. perhaps even chuckling, just as it did me. But there is still a far greater amount of tension and drama than humour; high stakes games being played in which the pot each of the characters are playing for is their life. Peter Ritchie has captured the tone of it all perfectly. From a highly dramatic and shocking opening, to an ending which will break the hearts of many a fan, this book had me completely hooked.
Characters are always key to a book’s success. You don’t have to like them but you have to care about them. I didn’t particularly like Tommy, but I liked what happened to him even less. I wasn’t over struck with his Barrister, Goldstein’s choice to defend known criminals, no matter their crime, but the amount of compassion he felt for his young client and the regret of not being able to help him made him a much more human character. Even Tommy’s former cell mate, a man who was convicted of killing his adulterous wife, is a character you can respect, if not wholly agree with his methods of dealing with infidelity. I mean, the same kind of principal worked for Henry VIII when he wanted rid of a troublesome spouse, but these days divorces are much more readily available alternative to murder, legal or otherwise …
I really enjoy the gritty nature of this series. It perhaps wasn’t quite as stark a storyline as the last two books in the series, but it is still one that will shock you, particularly the very dark opening scene. It may make you pause, perhaps take stock of what you are reading, but don’t let it put you off what you are reading. It is a minor – but important – part of the story that goes a long way to explaining some of what has come to pass. It is certainly something that makes Grace Macallan act entirely out of character, but for all the right reasons.
It’s not just about the gang wars though, and there are passages carefully placed throughout the book which initially feel disconnected from the rest of the story, but ultimately brings the action much closer to home for one of the Detectives in a completely unexpected way. And the ending … what this means for Grace … well who knows.
All in all, another gripping read that will keep fans of the series very, very happy.
Peter Ritchie is a retired senior police officer. The real world authenticity in his novels comes from vast experience gained working in CID, murder squads, Serious and Regional Crime Squads, NCIS London and Europol.
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